Did you know that outer space and the inner depths of the ocean are a lot alike? They are…but it took author Jennifer Swanson to bring it to our attention in her new National Geographic Kids’ title, Astronaut-Aquanaut: How Space Science and Sea Science Interact.
In this amazing book, aspiring young scientists learn the similarities between exploring the vast reaches of space versus exploring the bottomless depths of the ocean. They learn that lack of gravity in space makes astronauts light as a feather, and buoyancy in water makes aquanauts float. Likewise, they learn that both environments are full of darkness, and that the sun must reflect off of space objects (like planets or stars) for light to be seen; and that the sun’s rays can only penetrate water to 656 feet before any semblance of light disappears.
Another similarity between space and the ocean’s depths is the concept of pressure. Young scientists learn that there is no pressure in space; therefore, an astronaut’s body will expand outward (and his insides will move apart) if there is no pressure to force them to stay together. On the other hand, there are “tons and tons of pressure” underwater; therefore, the body would absorb more oxygen and other gases, which can lead to “the bends,” or even death.
This exciting book is full of information! Aspiring scientists learn about gravity and microgravity; the different layers of the atmosphere; why submersibles are round; and how studying the topography of the ocean floor helps scientists understand space. They learn the educational requirements for getting into NASA’s space program; why astronauts must train underwater; what it feels like during blastoff; and the similarities and differences of living spaces in space and under water.
The Table of Contents are arranged sequentially to make understanding these two concepts easier to digest. There is a detailed index at the back to help students quickly find what they are looking for. Also, there are specialized sections near the end of the volume. For example, there is a section on discoveries that have changed our lives, as well as a few pages devoted to future expansion (space colonies and underwater cities, P. 86). Students can see and read about current astronauts and aquanauts (P. 88-89), and there is also a section on the agency that governs both space and ocean exploration (P. 85).
Use this book as supplemental reading for vocational, technological and environmental courses.